Walking around Turkish towns you may occasionally see men with a mother rabbit and several babies sitting on a box beside little slips of paper, the idea being that you pay your money and one of the kits will pick out a slip with your fortune written on it. It’s questionable what kind of a life this is for the rabbits in question although their owners may have few other ways to earn a living.

Less ethically questionable is a visit to a woman who will read your coffee grains, something called fal in Turkish. Turkish coffee always leaves thick grains at the bottom of the tiny cups and when you’ve downed yours the falcı (fortune-teller) will invert the cup on the saucer and then examine the patterns left in trails on the inside of the cup. How accurate a way of looking into the future this is will be a decision for you to make. In the 2010s the government tended to look down on this activity so there are fewer overt fal cafes than there used to be. The cannier falcıs have simply moved online. And no one can prevent village women continuing to tell fortunes this way in the privacy of their homes.

It’s not fortune-telling but Turks are also fond of nazar boncuklar, blue-eye beads believed to ward off the evil eye and so often pinned to the clothes of babies (or the purchases of tourists). More religious Turks will attach little packets containing words from the Koran to protect a baby similarly. It’s customary to say “maşallah” when admiring a child in a further attempt to fend off bad luck. 


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